LifeLab: educating young people for lifelong health


LifeLab actively engages with young people, teachers and researchers. The aim is to introduce science that explains how lifestyle choices at an early age can drastically affect young people’s health and the health of their future children.

The LifeLab laboratory opened at Southampton General Hospital in September 2013. It is a purpose built facility with some state of the art equipment not available in schools. Through hands-on learning, LifeLab empowers young people to make healthier choices and reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes) later in life. This hands-on approach to learning breaks down boundaries, makes science accessible, and brings it to life; inspiring children to consider careers in healthcare, science, and medicine.

Research in Southampton has focused on the processes by which the developmental environment affects later risk of ill-health such as obesity or non-communicable disease. The insights from this research are highly relevant to today's society, because they raise issues about personal choice, responsibility for health and the need for better informed decisions about diet, lifestyle and the ethical dilemmas faced by technological societies.

LifeLab draws on this research to raise teenagers' awareness and interest in the science underpinning health issues, make positive changes to adolescent health-related attitudes and help young people break cycles of unhealthy behaviour. Its theoretical basis includes education research which has explored how teenagers can engage in effective decision-making about socio-scientific issues, such as health issues, by considering relevant values and scientific concepts.